Ditka goes by numbers in naming young Bears

July 31, 1991|By Fred Mitchell | Fred Mitchell,Chicago Tribune

BERLIN, Ill. -- What's in a name?

Not much, if you listen to Chicago Bears coach Mike Ditka.

Especially when you are dealing with an 80-man roster. The names tend to get a little fuzzy at times.

L No wonder Ditka often refers to his rookies by their number.

Such as: "I like No. 81 [Anthony Morgan], he has shown a lot of savvy."

Or, "No. 24 [Joe Johnson] is an interesting guy. He does some nice things."

And, "I like No. 71 [James Williams], he's a mountain. No. 19 [Nigel Codrington] catches the ball. So does No. 18 [Steve Brown]. They're all good football players."

Ditka may know football talent, but he doesn't know names.

When he does attempt to refer to his players by name, Ditka has been known to botch the pronunciation a bit.

don't know much yet about the young quarterbacks: Paul Jensen [actually Justin] and the other kid [Brent Snyder]," Ditka said recently.

Even some names of veterans get butchered. In only the third week of training camp, Ditka has mispronounced at least six player names in news conferences.

He is on a pace to easily break his own record of nine botched names, set last season. Most of the "Ditka-isms" closely resemble the real names. But yesterday's attempt at saying the name of veteran lineman John Wojciechowski (pronounced Woj-cha-cow-ski) wasn't even close.

Here is the up-to-date list of Ditka name creations in quote marks:

James Coley -- James "Cooley"

Roman Matusz -- "Roland" Matusz

Joe Johnson -- Joe "Jackson"

Stan Thomas -- "Darren" Thomas (or was he referring to Darren Lewis?)

Paul Justin -- Paul "Jensen"

John Wojciechowski -- John "Wojohovich"

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